Fast-Tracked Early Warning COVID-19 Research Project

People on cell phones wearing medical facemasks are tracked via their cellphones

Fast-Tracked Early Warning COVID-19 Research Project

Twenty-four University of Miami research teams, including a team from IDSC, have received rapid-response grants to undertake innovative projects that will provide critical information about the novel coronavirus. Imagine developing an oral rinse test to detect COVID-19 earlier, creating a behavior therapy program for parents so that they do not pass on the stress they are feeling to their children during the pandemic, or gauging the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and trying to determine the impacts on their new babies.

These are just a few of the 24 projects recently awarded rapid response grants from the University of Miami’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research. The grants, which range from $5,000 to $40,000, require faculty members and students to develop and execute research that will somehow broaden our understanding of COVID-19 and begin to mitigate its impacts within the next four months.

“Our idea was to take advantage of researchers’ creativity and commitment in tackling some of the most pressing problems around the COVID-19 epidemic,” said John Bixby, Vice Provost for Research and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology and Neurological Surgery. “We challenged them to examine the effects of the pandemic on multiple aspects of people’s lives—not just the physical ones, but the social aspects, the economic ones, and the environmental.”

With just 10 days to submit proposals, faculty members across the University flooded the office with applications and more than 70 ideas were submitted.

Each award was reviewed by three individuals, and the awardees were selected based on novelty, potential impact on the effort to combat COVID-19, and whether the study could be completed in short turnaround time. “The faculty response was inspiring,” said Erin Kobetz, Co-Vice Povost for Research. “There was a level of innovation across multiple disciplines that demonstrates an institutional commitment to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to the outcomes of those applications that were funded and imagine that they will lead to positive, measurable impact now and in the future.”  After the four months are over, teams will be asked to report their progress, Bixby said.

Among the projects awarded funding was this disease-surveillance idea:

  • Developing a COVID-19 Early Detection, Tracking, and Reporting System

Given the surfeit of social media data accompanying the recent outbreak of COVID-19, this group will take a computational and big data-driven approach to uncovering information about viral transmission, social sentiment and response, decision-making, and public health policy recommendations. The group proposes to develop algorithm(s), as well as an online early alert system, to provide early warnings for disease surveillance tied to geographical data.

Principal Investigator: Nicholas Tsinoremas, Institute Director, Institute for Data Science and Computing


For a list of all projects awarded grants, visit:  NEWS@TheU 4/13/2020